Paula Scher was born October 6, 1948 is Washington D.C. She attended school at the Tyler School of Art, in Pennsylvania and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. It was here that she was taught the Swiss International Style of typography “Helvetica”. Today, Scher is known as an American graphic designer, painter and art educator in design.
In 1972, she began her graphic design career as a record cover art director at both Atlantic and CBS Records in New York City. Although Scher’s work spans over 3 decades, I was most intrigued with her accomplishments during this time. While at CBS she designed approximately 150 album covers a year, and produced uncountable ads and posters. During her time in the record industry, her work was described as accessible but smart. She collaborated with illustrators and photographers to interpret music in poetic ways. She used design to make visual analogies to invoke a mood or stage a scenario than provide literal depictions of bands and performers. This created an emotional impact and immediate appeal to contemporary audiences. Some of those iconic album cover designs are Boston, Eric Gale, Leonard Bernstein, Bob James, Bob James and Earl Klugh, Roger Dean and David Howells and Jean-Pierre Rampal and Lily Laskin. I was most interested to learn her record designs were recognized with four Grammy nominations. This is important since I don’t believe some people are aware this is a category of the Grammy Awards. Additionally, in the late 70’s there was an economic crash. Scher could no longer afford to put money into imagery so she began to focus on type. For this reason, she is credited with reviving historical typefaces and design styles.